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The U.S.-based Warner music company has filed a lawsuit accusing a popular Taiwan-based karaoke chain of playing its music videos without permission and is demanding 200,000 yuan (US$24,000; euro18,500) in damages, a state newspaper reported Friday. The Hong Kong arm of Warner also is asking a Beijing court to order Partyworld to apologize for playing three Warner videos, according to the China Daily newspaper. The lawyer in Beijing for Warner declined through an employee to comment. A spokeswoman for Partyworld in Taipei, Taiwan, said it had no immediate comment. Warner, EMI and other foreign and Chinese recording companies launched a campaign earlier this year to force thousands of karaoke bars throughout China to start paying for music. It wasn’t clear whether the lawsuit against Partyworld stemmed from that campaign. Warner Music Hong Kong is a subsidiary of New York-based Time Warner Inc., the world’s biggest media company. “Warner never authorized Partyworld to use” the music videos, said the lawsuit filed Thursday at the No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing, according to the China Daily. “The illegal behavior of the defendant has seriously damaged the plaintiff’s interests and resulted in great economic losses.” The report said the videos were for songs by Hong Kong pop star Aaron Kwok which were played in Beijing. Partyworld’s spokeswoman said the chain has seven karaoke bars on the mainland, including outlets in Shanghai and the southern city of Guangzhou. A man who answered the phone at the court referred questions to a higher-level court, where calls were not answered. Warner also wanted the intermediate court to ban the broadcasting of its products at karaoke bars, the newspaper said. Karaoke is hugely popular in China, where bars, hotels, restaurants and even some homes have karaoke equipment and rooms. Some karaoke parlors, like Partyworld, are enormous operations, featuring multistory facilities with a warren of private rooms and perks like free buffets into the early hours of the morning. Karaoke music in China often comes from illegally copied recordings, with no fees paid to copyright holders. Foreign governments say Chinese piracy of music, movies, software, pharmaceuticals, sporting goods and other products costs foreign companies as much as US$50 billion in lost potential sales each year. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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